Ahhh, the thought of drinking a cold brew on a warm summer afternoon is making my mouth water. The cool, smooth, sweet, caffeinated liquid moving up from the mason jar, through the straw, and touching my taste buds sets off an orgy of enjoyment.
Ahh, warm weather and the sweaty sweats. For me, those go hand in hand. I'm one of those *lucky* creatures that glistens like a Vaseline sculpture within moments of temperatures hitting anywhere north of 25 degrees Celsius (that's 77 degrees Fahrenheit for those who use freedom units). It isn't pretty, nor is it comfortable. As a teenager, I assumed I'd be doomed to hate summer forever, unable to pivot more than 10 degrees this way or that without having to unstick my clothes like I was picking a whole-body wedgie. Pretty soon, though, I figured out how to make those heatwaves tolerable. It came in the form of a convenience store slurpee/icee. The icy freshness always made me feel like a new boy!
But yes, over time, I realized this was what a boy drank. And now that I'm firmly in my 30s, I must icee like a man! And what's more manly than being a coffee drinker?
I shake my head now, remembering toughing it out in the mornings with an hour of complete stillness while I cooled down from the first cup of the day. I liked to call this giant waste of time, "meditation". Imagine my delight when iced cold coffee entered the scene when I was about 22 years old *Sounds of Angels singing*. And then, when I realized I could be manlier still while finally drinking a weather-appropriate temperature beverage in the form of a strong, cold brewed coffee...Well, that, my friends, was a GAME CHANGER.
Now, I might be dramatizing just a little because for me, this is a bit of a sore subject, but the takeaway is the same. Excessive sweating: Bad; Delicious cold brew coffee: Good!
Cold brew has become more and more popular in recent years but it can be pricey if you're always ordering it from your local coffee shop (Starbucks, here's looking at you). This has forced people to look into the convenience and cost savings of making it at home. There are lots of companies that have made cold brew their specialty. Still, there are so many options out there, how do you know which one to pick?
We're here to help make your life a little easier with our extensive article on the best coffee for cold brew.
Let's get started.
In a rush? Here's our Ultimate Top Pick
This Minnesota based company was created by two friends (Alex and Andrew) in the 2010s and has gone all-in with cold brew. They've also developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. They exclusively sell coarse grind and everything else needed to make cold brew.
In this particular blend, they're using beans from Central and South American regions which provide the hazelnutty, chocolate, and caramel tones. They also balance the flavors and smoothness by blending together light, medium, and dark roasted beans.
Our Joe Rating: 9.5/10
And here's a quick snapshot at the rest of the best. (All links lead to Amazon. Read below for a more detailed look at each of them.)
- Stone Street Dark Roast (9.4/10) *Runner-up*
- Starbucks Unsweetened Cold Brew (9.2/10)
- Cooper's Cask - Cold Brew Coffee Box Set with 6 Filter Bags (9.2/10) *best for beginners*
- Bones Coffee Company, S'morey Time Flavored (9.1/10)
- Salted Caramel Flavored - Inspired Coffee Co. - Coarse Ground (9.1/10) *most flavorful*
- Tiny Footprint Coffee - Organic Cold Brew Cold Press Elixir (8.8/10)
- Wandering Bear Extra Strong Organic Coffee (8.7/10)
Why Cold Brew?
Before we get into why you should be trying cold brew coffee (if you haven't yet), let's differentiate it from iced coffee. The two are commonly confused.
Iced coffee is simply regular coffee. Little to no steep time being added to the drip or pour-over method. It's served over ice, mixed with milk or left black.
Cold brew coffee uses coarse ground coffee and is steeped in water for a minimum of 12 hours. It uses time, not heat, to extract all the goodness from the beans. At the end of the 12-hours (or more), you drain the grounds and keep the concentrate.
With that cleared up, let's go over what makes cold brew coffee awesome by comparing it to regular coffee.
- Higher in caffeine;
- Lower acidity, smooth and sweet taste;
- Easy to make;
Basic Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
Before you pick out what grounds you're going to use, it's helpful to know how to make it. Here, I'll outline a basic recipe for making cold brew coffee but first, let's talk about what equipment you'll need.
- Coarse ground coffee, or whole bean coffee if you plan on grinding them yourself.
- Something to put the coffee and water in. This is vague intentionally, as there are a few options:
- Recommended: Cold Brew Coffee Maker like this excellent one here.
- French Press.
- Mason jar with cheese cloth.
- Bowl with strainer.
Pro Tip: A Cold Brew Coffee Maker is going to save you a ton of time and headaches. Pick one up for a good price likes this one quart, black one here on Amazon. You won't regret it!
Step 1: Put your coarse ground coffee into your container. Now, because we're using room temperature water, the ratio of coffee to water is about 1:7. That means if you're using 100 grams of ground coffee, put in 700 ml of water.
Step 2: Stir the grinds around to *moisten* them up. This word was used intentionally because...well, just because.
Step 3: Cover using a cotton cloth, silicone lid, or even sheet pan, and leave in a safe place. Don't put it in the fridge - if it gets too cold, the coffee won't dissolve enough and can leave the brew tasting thin.
Step 4: Let sit between 12-15 hours.
Step 5: Strain it to remove the grounds from the cold brew. At this point, the brew should be nice and thick. This is where whichever container you're using will determine how you do this;
- Cold Brew Coffee Maker: simply pour into another large container.
- French press: Press down on plunger
- Mason jar: secure cheesecloth on top and pour into another jar.
- In a bowl: run through strainer then damp paper towel. (it's at this point you'll thank yourself for using coarse grinds).
Step 6: Dilute it with water, ice, milk, or cream to your taste preference, and enjoy! Store remainder in fridge.
Best Coffee for Cold Brew
The following are the top cold brew coffee blends. Some of them will come in ground variety and others in whole coffee bean form.
Runner-Up: Stone Street Dark Roast Cold Brew (9.4/10)
Stone Street Coffee Company is the relatively new kid on the block, just opening in 2009. They're a small-batch artisanal roaster located within spitting distance of the Brooklyn bridge in NYC and offer regular coffee, flavored coffee, and of course, cold brew.
Their regular cold brew is extremely popular but if you're feeling adventurous, head over to their website where they also offer cold brew flavors such as caramel nut, blueberry, and chocolate hazelnut... yum!
Our Joe Rating: 9.4/10
You caught me! These aren't beans to make a cold brew but rather prepared cold brew. If you read the recipe above and if it seemed like too much work just try out cold brew once, buy this. It allows you to skip all the above steps and get your taste-test delivered straight to your door, already made.
Our Joe Rating: 9.2/10
Is this your first-time trying out cold brew and you aren't keen to make a big investment in equipment? Not sure which flavor to get? Giving it as a gift?
If you said yes to any of the above questions, this box set might be right for you.
It comes with six filter bags and three small sample bags of single origin coffee from Central and South America.
The Colombian is a dark roast and has hints of cocoa with light fruited flavors. If you're interested in more Colombian coffee, I just did a post of the best Colombian coffee brands here. The Peruvian features caramel with a touch of cherry and orange. And lastly their Guatemalan has milk chocolate-y taste with creamy caramel and a hint of orange.
Our Joe Rating: 9.2/10
This company stands out with their character by having some really cool artwork on their packaging and unique names for their blends. This popular blend of theirs is no different. It screams Halloween but is great year-round.
Do you remember the last time you were around a campfire making s'mores?
Yeah, me neither but I miss it! Let this one take you back with a keto and vegan friendly blend of chocolate and toasted marshmallow flavor and a hint of sweet graham cracker.
Our Joe Rating: 9.1/10
Inspired Coffee Co. is so new (est. in 2018) that there's very little known about it except that they're located in Texas. As the saying goes, "Everything is Bigger is Texas", and it appears they apply that moniker to the taste of their coffees. Their cold brew flavored coffee with salted caramel is by far their most popular flavor, narrowly beating out the French Vanilla.
This blend is advertised as having a smooth and buttery caramel flavor with a hint of salt.
Our Joe Rating: 9.1/10
Tiny Footprint Coffee is very aptly named. In fact, they're the world's first carbon negative coffee. How so? They state that making one pound of their coffee produces 4lbs of CO2. To eliminate this, they take profits from every sale and put it towards funding reforestation in Ecuador's Mindo cloud forest. Over time, these trees will remove 54 lbs. of CO2 from the atmosphere. A pretty admirable cause and something anyone can get behind.
This organic blend is a mix of Ethiopian light and dark roasts. This region is known for its wine-like, fruity flavors and a lingering aftertaste.
Our Joe Rating: 8.8/10
Here's yet another company from Brooklyn, NYC, similar to Stone Street coffee company. Unlike them though, Wandering Bear offer an organic coffee with double the caffeine! Yikes.
Our Joe Rating: 8.7/10
Now that we've covered which ones are best, here are answers to some common questions we get about selecting cold brew coffee.
Do you need special coffee for cold brew?
Any type of coffee can be used for cold brew. It doesn't matter the origin or the roast, although dark roast typically produces the best flavors. What absolutely does matter is that you use a coarse grind. This will ensure your mix won't be over-extracted.
This means you have to look specifically for coarse grinds, or opt for whole beans to grind yourself.
Every recommended coffee on our list is great for cold brewing.
What coffee is used in Starbucks cold brew?
FROM ANOTHER SITE: While the Starbucks cold brew coffee menu doesn't state the specific blend of coffee beans that they use, they do reveal that they're Arabica beans from Africa and Latin America. The flavor of Starbucks cold brew is more in line with that of a medium roast.
What happens if you use fine ground coffee for cold brew? / Can you use regular ground coffee for cold brew?
If the grind is too fine it'll lead to over-extraction. This means the flavor of the finished brew will be more bitter and harsh than if you used a coarse grind.
Additionally, using a fine grind will make it more challenging to filter out the grinds after steeping and can lead to a grainy final mix.
Is cold brew a waste of coffee?
It does require more coffee grinds in its ratio with water but still, most drinkers wouldn't consider it a waste of coffee. The mixture comes out as a cold brew concentrate. Some like to drink it as is, while others like to dilute it with cold water, ice cubes, or other flavors. If you're not a fan of cold brew coffee then yes, it would be considered a waste.
Is cold brew coffee healthier?
There is no distinguishable different in the health benefits between hot and cold brew coffee. The only difference being that cold brew is less acidic which makes it easier to digest.
We hope you enjoyed our best coffee for cold brew review and that you've been inspired you to try it out yourself!
Do you have any experience with this coffee? What did you think? Or are you already an iced coffee lover? Did we get it right or do you disagree? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!